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Mapping Out Crop Progress in Nebraska

Nebraska crops have struggled behind average crop progress pace since spring floods hammered much of the state in early spring. The challenges have continued into the fall season as farmers in the Cornhusker state hope their corn and soybeans mature before a hard frost comes.

A five-week breakdown of the weather shows how tremendous amounts of precipitation affected Nebraska crops throught the month of September.

Week 1: September 1-7

September began with three counties in the northeast part of the state under abnormally dry conditions. The area accounts for 1.49% of acres in Nebraska.

Nebraska drought monitor map week 1of September 2019
David Miskus

On September 1, 90% of the Nebraska corn crop was at dough stage compared with a five-year average of 95%, according to the September 3 USDA Crop Progress report. Just 54% of the corn crop had dented compared with a five-year average of 66%. Only 1% of the corn crop was rated mature. At the same time a year ago, in 2018, 8% of Nebraska corn was mature. The five-year average is 7%.

Nebraska corn conditions were:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 5%
  • Fair: 17%
  • Good: 56%
  • Excellent: 21%

Soybean progress also staggered behind the average pace to start the month. The first USDA Crop Progress report of September said 98% of the soybean crop was blooming compared to a five-year average of 100%. Soybeans setting pods were at 90% compared with the 98% five-year avereage.

Nebraska soybean conditions were:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 4%
  • Fair: 16%
  • Good: 64%
  • Excellent: 15%

By the end of the first week of September, northeastern counties in Nebraska recorded between 0.8 and 1.78 inches of rain. Farmers in the central part of the state welcomed a dry week after many received between 1 and 3 inches the week prior.

Map of Nebraska precipitation total week 1 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Crops in most of the state saw more growing degree days (GDDs) than average for the first week of September.

Map of Nebraska growing degree days week 1 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Week 2: September 8-14

The small abnormally dry region of Nebraska shrunk in the second week of September. Just 1.07% was reported abnormally dry on September 10.

Map of Nebraska drought conditions week 2 of September 2019
David Miskus

On September 8, 94% of the Nebraska corn crop was at dough stage compared with a five-year average of 98%, according to the September 9 USDA Crop Progress report. Just 70% of the corn crop had dented compared with a five-year average of 81%. Only 9% of the corn crop was rated mature. At the same time a year ago, in 2018, 20% of Nebraska corn was mature. The five-year average is 18%.

Nebraska corn conditions slipped:

  • Very poor: 2%
  • Poor: 5%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 58%
  • Excellent: 15%

Soybean progress also continued behind the average pace. The second USDA Crop Progress report of September said 94% of the soybean crop was setting pods compared with a five-year average of 100%.

Nebraska soybean conditions were:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 4%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 61%
  • Excellent: 14%

Week two brought more precipitation to the state, with totals ranging from 4 to 8 inches in the north-central counties. Most Nebraska counties got at least an inch of rain.

Map of Nebraska precipitation total week 2 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Above-average temperatures across most of the state, by as much as 10°F., helped crops continue progress toward maturity.

Map of Nebraska average temperature departure for week 2 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Above-average temperatures meant above-average GDDs for many Nebraska crops.

Map of Nebraska growing degree days week 2 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Week 3: September 15-21

Heavy rains in week two wiped out all abnormally dry conditions in the state of Nebraska by September 17.

Map of Nebraska drought conditions week 3 of September 2019
Eric Luebehusen

On September 15, 97% of the Nebraska corn crop was at dough stage compared with a five-year average of 99%, according to the September 16 USDA Crop Progress report. Just 82% of the corn crop had dented compared with a five-year average of 90%. Only 19% of the corn crop was rated mature. At the same time a year ago, in 2018, 41% of Nebraska corn was mature. The five-year average is 35%.

Corn harvest offically started in the third week of September for many farmers around the country, but no corn harvest was reported in Nebraska. In 2018, 4% of Nebraska’s corn had been harvested by this point in the season. The five-year average is 2%.

Nebraska corn conditions were:

  • Very poor: 2%
  • Poor: 6%
  • Fair: 21%
  • Good: 54%
  • Excellent: 17%

Soybean progress also lagged behind the average crop progress pace. The third USDA Crop Progress report of September said 98% of the soybean crop was setting pods compared with a five-year average of 100%. Soybeans dropping leaves were at just 22% compared with the 44% five-year average.

Nebraska soybean conditions slipped a bit:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 4%
  • Fair: 21%
  • Good: 61%
  • Excellent: 13%

Except for eastern Nebraska, the state was mostly dry during the third week of September. 

Map of Nebraska precipitation total week 3 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Statewide, temperatures were above average, by as much as 16°F. in east-central Nebraska.

Map of Nebraska average temperature departure for week 3 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Warm temperatures resulted in another week of above-average GDDs, welcomed by farmers eager to see their corn and soybean crops achieve maturity.

Map of Nebraska growing degree days week 3 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Week 4: September 22-28

For the second week in a row a clear drought monitor map for Nebraska was published on September 24.

Map of Nebraska drought conditions week 4 of September 2019
Eric Luebenhusen

On September 22, 99% of the Nebraska corn crop was at dough stage compared with a five-year average of 100%, according to the September 23 USDA Crop Progress report. Just 91% of the corn crop had dented compared with a five-year average of 96%. Only 37% of the corn crop was rated mature. At the same time a year ago, in 2018, 65% of Nebraska corn was mature. The five-year average is 56%.

Nebraska farmers began corn harvest in the fourth week of September. As of September 22, 3% of the state's corn had been harvested. In 2018, 8% of Nebraska corn had been harvested by this point in the growing season. The five-year average is 6%.

Nebraska corn conditions slipped further: 

  • Very poor: 3%
  • Poor: 6%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 55%
  • Excellent: 16%

Soybean progress also lagged behind the average crop progress pace. The fourth USDA Crop Progress report of September said 55% of the soybean crop was dropping leaves compared with a five-year average of 69%.

Nebraska soybean conditions also slipped a bit:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 5%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 62%
  • Excellent: 12%

In week four, the heaviest precipitation was focused in the southeastern part of Nebraska. Much of the state saw at least .10 inch of rain.

Map of Nebraska precipitation total week 4 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The warmer-than-average trend continued into the fourth week of September.

Map of Nebraska average temperature departure for week 4 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

An above-average number of GDDs were also recorded during the fourth week.

Map of Nebraska growing degree days week 4 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Week 5: September 29-October 5

For the third week in a row, no dry areas were reported in Nebraska according to the October 1 drought monitor map.

Map of Nebraska drought conditions week 5 of September 2019
Brian Fuchs

On September 29, 95% of Nebraska corn was dented compared with a five-year average of 98%, according to the September 30 USDA Crop Progress report. Only 52% of the corn crop was rated mature. At the same time a year ago, in 2018, 82% of the corn crop was rated mature. The five-year average for the state is 72%. Nebraska farmers have harvested 8% of the state’s corn crop, up by 5% over last week. Last year, corn harvest was 16% complete at this time.

Nebraska corn conditions were: 

  • Very poor: 2%
  • Poor: 5%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 56%
  • Excellent: 17%

Soybeans in Nebraska continue to mature behind the five-year average pace. The fifth USDA Crop Progress report of the month said 75% of the soybean crop was dropping leaves compared with a five-year average of 84%. Farmers in the state started harvesting soybeans at the end of the month. USDA reported soybean harvest is 6% complete, 19% behind the five-year average pace.

Nebraska soybean conditions were:

  • Very poor: 1%
  • Poor: 4%
  • Fair: 20%
  • Good: 62%
  • Excellent: 13%

More rain fell across the state of Nebraska to close out the month of September. More than 5 inches of precipitation were recorded in the southeastern part of the state.

Map of Nebraska precipitation total week 5 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Cooler-than-average temperatures hit the state across the north and west. Temperatures were above average in some southeastern counties to end the month of September.

Map of Nebraska average temperature departure for week 5 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Below-average temperatures resulted in below-average GDDs across a majority of the state for crops that aren't yet mature.

Map of Nebraska growing degree days week 5 of September 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

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